Sunday, September 22, 2013

Friends, Unemployment, Plane Ticket

The Parliament Building at night

Big and small things have been happening to me here in Victoria. I guess the first biggest change is that I was laid off of my job and am currently unemployed. Thankfully Jon will start getting paid soon and we have some savings left in the bank, so we're not completely screwed. I'd also like to think of this as a sort of blessing in disguise, since I missed several opportunities to work with temp agencies that would have possibly led to full-time employment. There were also many philosophical beliefs that I clashed against with the restaurant owners (vegetarianism, feminism, sensitivity, etc) that made the job a bad fit. Also working there six days a week made it hard to volunteer, meet/see friends, or do anything besides work, due to the physical exhaustion of it all. So for the most part, this has been a good change.

About a 20 minute walk from our place

Totem pole by the sea 

Look-out point

The next development is that I've been striving to meet new people and build stronger connections with the people that I have met already. I hung out with some people that I met on a water taxi pub crawl for a game night, met a grad student and his partner of his for a dinner night a week or so ago, and just today met some of Jon's friends to go ice skating. I signed up for volunteering shifts at the local sexual health clinic, so I hope to meet some people through there, and I want to start rock climbing again. I felt like when I've been rock climbing in the past, there's always been a really healthy, supportive, and friendly group of people in the climbing gyms, so it'd be nice to also met some people through there and develop another hobby. The only issue is that climbing is pretty expensive, and being unemployed doesn't help...

Participants for the AIDS walk listen to speakers on a gloomy Sunday

Beatle friend at Goldstream Provincial Park

Mist rolling in. Only a 20 minute drive from downtown Victoria. 

Natalie and I at the top of Mt. Finlayson 

And then on top off all of this news, I've been feeling horribly home sick. Despite the fact I had one of the best weekends this weekend than I've had probably since moving here, I still have this insatiable desire to talk to friends and family from home. Hearing about the challenges that my friends are encountering and not being able to hug them or help them physically pains me, and I hate not being able to spend time with my family at engagement parties, picnics, and wine nights. Don't get me wrong-- I'm thoroughly enjoying the dinner parties, ice skating, exploring, hiking, and beer tasting with Jon and the friends that I've been making, but my heart aches for the familiar. 

So after finding out that one of my dearest friends is getting married in November about a week ago, I semi-impulsively bought a ticket home for the week of Thanksgiving. : ) Jon won't be able to come with me due to his super-packed schedule, but we decided that we'll be spending a romantic Christmas together here in Victoria.

More graceful on the ice than I.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Blueberries, Strawberries, and Mint

Jon and I were invited to a dinner tonight at a friend's house and, as the type of guest that I am, asked if we could bring anything. The suggested salad, and after browsing my recipes, I decided to try this one that I only made once before. I wanted to try a new recipe, but with such limited time (I was told two hours before we had to leave!) this quinoa and fruit salad was great, quick option! 

Quinoa a'cookin'! 

Mmmm berries 

This juicer was given to me by a friend as my going away present to Boston. I love it and any chance I get to use it!

The recipe calls for fresh herbs including mint. I cheated with this mix and added my own mint!


All packed up and ready to go!

Not suggested serving size. Suggested serving size much larger!

2 cups uncooked quinoa
4 cups fresh water
1.5 cups fresh blueberries, washed, picked over
1.5 cups fresh strawberries, washed, sliced
6 cups baby salad greens
A handful of fresh chopped herbs: cilantro, dill, parsley and mint1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh squeezed lime juice from 2 limes
Pepper, to taste

Place the quinoa, water, and sea salt in a large to medium rice cooker, and cover. Cook until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender. Scoop the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing, fruit and baby greens.

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and pepper. Taste test it, and adjust seasonings.

Slice the strawberries and mix together with the blueberries.

Distribute the baby greens and chopped herbs onto plates. All the quinoa, then strawberries and blueberries. Drizzle with dressing and serve!

Recipe via Gluten Free Goddess

Friday, September 13, 2013

Feminist Protest Signs

Ah, the feminist protest sign. I feel like there's something wonderfully empowering when your thoughts are written down, but there's added power when you display that those thoughts to everyone around you. 

I've only been to one protest in my life (it was supporting Planned Parenthood in Washington, DC) and I held up a pre-made "Women's Health Matters" sign, which fine and good, but I now wish I made my own sign. Some of these are quite clever and powerful and since I've gathered quite a few on Pinterest, I figured I'd share them here.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quinoa with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Leeks, and Almonds

This is one of my favorite dishes to make. I love how colorful it is and the smell of leek, and really, anything with Brussels Sprouts is a winner for me. This was the first time that I cooked with leek that wasn't already trimmed and washed for me, so I had to look it up online and found this video. Here are the basic steps:

1) Cut off most of the leafy part (which is tough and inedible) and slice the stalk length-wise down the middle.

2) After slicing the leek stalks into thin half moons, fill a bowl with cold water and put in the sliced leek. Wash the leeks around, making sure to get in between all of the layers. Transfer the leek by hand to a colander (do not pour the water in-- it'll get everything dirty again) to drain. 

Doing this for the first time reminded me of when my friend Dana and I cooked with Brussels sprouts for the first time. We didn't really know what we were doing (and I had never even had them before), so I thought it might be useful to have short tutorial on trimming those lovely little cabbages:

1) After rinsing off the sprouts, trim the bottom off. This is hard and inedible and makes the next step easier.

2) Remove the loose layers of the sprout. These dark, bitter leaves aren't very good to eat, and several layers may come off. You should remove only so many leaves to reveal a light green sprout on the inside.

These two steps are the most involved with this recipe, and without taking photos I imagine it wouldn't take that long at all to wash and trim both of these veggies. 

Nutty smelling quinoa is my favorite grain to cook with!

Veggies, nuts, and berries ready for roasting!

My friend Alex and her dinosaur husband Matt called while everything was starting to smell delicious!

Hot and slightly burnt! Whoops. I also forgot to slice the sprouts. Double whoops.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water 
1 leek, washed, trimmed, sliced
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, halved (or quartered, if large)
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds (I used regular almonds with no issues)
1/4 cup plump golden raisins, packed (cranberries or purple raisins work fine, too)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried dill

Add the quinoa and water to a pot. Cover, bring to a boil, and cook the quinoa until all the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile- preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Toss the prepared leek, Brussels sprouts, almonds, and golden raisins in the olive oil. Sprinkle with golden balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt, minced garlic and dill; and toss to coat. Roast for roughly 15 to 20 minutes, stirring at least once, until the Brussels sprouts are tender, and browned a bit.
Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, to taste. Add sea salt and ground pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine the roasted Brussels sprouts and hot cooked quinoa.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Oscar de la Renta

Once upon a time ago in a land far, far away, I used to order Vogue magazine. Yes. I paid $25 a year to be advertised products I could or would never afford and loved flipping through the objectified ads of women in vulnerable, sexualized positions, wearing tons of make up and with crazy hair. I was an unaware, uneducated 20 year old and I loved it. 

Now, most of this stuff I thought looked down right crazy and knew it was absolutely ridiculous to spend $400 on a t-shirt, but Oscar de la Renta always stuck out to me. Every ad that I saw, every photo where some celebrity was wearing something by him, I adored. Something so simple, gorgeous, well-done, classy, vintage, and beautiful was put into so many of his clothes, and I always felt like if I somehow stumbled upon that type of money and mentality where I could justify spending $400 on a t-shirt, that I would buy his stuff. Since that time will never come, I will oftentimes look to de la Renta for inspiration and just droll over his clothes.

Looking at these photos and noticing the drastic, unhealthy standards of beauty these models are setting forth, I just want to emphasize that this is not a post supporting the high fashion industry's morals and unrealistic beliefs. I do not condone women being ridiculed for their weight (be that too skinny or too heavy), starved to be a certain weight, told they are overweight, told they are ugly, too short, too tall, feet too big, skin not white enough, etc. I simply enjoy the colors, cuts, lengths, patterns, and textures of these over priced clothes.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Alberaldo Morell

While Jon and I were road tripping, we stopped by the Chicago Art Institute to see what they had in store. While on our way out, my eye happened to catch a photography exhibit and we decided to check it out. Alberaldo Morell, whom I had never heard of before, is a photographer that experiments with camera obscura. I've never messed around with this photo technique myself, but I knew of it from a photographer friend who had experimented with it before and from one of my favorite bands

While I understood the basic concept of camera obscura rooms (which layers the reversed outside image [taken from the light outside] onto an interior wall), Morell also experimented with using a "tent camera", which superimposed images of the ground of the tent onto the scenery outside. The result is hauntingly beautiful and I couldn't have been happier with stumbling upon this exhibit!